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A federal appeals court overturned a lower court ruling and reinstated a retaliation charge filed by a black Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. supervisor who was fired after complaining a black worker had been discriminated against.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, though, affirmed dismissal of the supervisor’s discrimination claim, according to the ruling in Alashae Crawford v. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.
In March 2014, a short time before her termination, Ms. Crawford had complained to her manager at a Cincinnati Chipotle restaurant that he was purposely interfering with a worker getting his back pay. The manager, who is Hispanic, allegedly responded that Ms. Crawford was only defending the worker because she is black.
After her termination, Ms. Crawford filed suit against Newport Beach, California-based Chipotle in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, charging discrimination and retaliation. The court granted the restaurant chain summary judgment dismissing both charges.
In reinstating the retaliation charge, a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel said, “A reasonable jury could conclude, given the context of this case, that Crawford engaged in protected activity by protesting what she believed was a racially discriminatory refusal to give (the worker) his back pay.”
The accusation “did not come out of left field,” said the ruling. Ms. Crawford “had previously approached (the manager) with complaints of racial favoritism and she specifically identified the failure to pay (the worker’s) back pay as the discriminatory practice.”
The ruling, however, affirmed dismissal of Ms. Crawford’s discrimination charge, stating she had “failed to make out a prima facie case of race discrimination.”
The case was remanded for further proceedings. Attorneys in the case could not immediately be reached for comment.
Earlier this month, a federal appeals court reinstated a former New York City high school teacher’s retaliation claim against the New York City Board of Education, but affirmed dismissal of her age discrimination claim.
A California woman is suing Chipotle Mexican Grill for $2.2 billion, claiming the burrito chain restaurant used her image in promotional materials without her permission.